It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

The Mastermyr Chest: A Norse Smith's Toolkit

page: 1
22
<<   2 >>

log in

join
share:
+4 more 
posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 05:47 AM
link   
'Who wins wealth by iron
Right early must rise:
Of the sea's breezy brother
Wind-holders need blast.
On furnace-gold glowing
My stout hammer rings,
While heat-feeding bellows
A whistling storm stir.'

(Egil's Saga)

Old tools and tool-kits are something i really love, whether it's vintage agricultural tools at flea-markets or collections of flint and antler bits in museums. I'm usually struck by how little things have essentially changed in that our methods and techniques in achieving certain craft-work remain pretty much the same over hundreds and often thousands of years. Materials change, tools develop in shape and functionality, but they still do the same thing, just a little more efficiently with each progression - and for the maker, the movements and rhythms often remain the same.

So before i ramble any further and drive you off, i present a rare archaeological treasure from The Viking Age - a Norse Blacksmith's tool kit:



The Chest and contents were found in a field in Goteland, Denmark called "Mastermyr" in 1936 when a farmer was ploughing and unexpectedly bought up a copper cauldron, and then in the next furrow a chain-bound chest:




While working in afield in Sproge, Hugo Kraft, a farmer from
Hemse, uncovered in the so-called Mastermyr at a depth of 1/2
aln (c. 30 cm) a copper cauldron, an oak chest containing all
manner of iron goods, chains, axes, sledge-hammers,
hammers, saws, and also including a steelyard of fine workmanship,
I believe gold-plated, several keys, art-work, a
smith's tongs, several boring-bits etc. etc. Everything together
weighing at least 40 kg.


Comprehensive Main Source - PDF

The exact find site was not marked, local archaeologists could not be sure they were examining the right place and made no further finds that year except some traces of rust in the soil -



No fragments of iron or organic
material, which could have been associated with the
find, were collected on this occasion nor was the site
marked or its position fixed.


Indeed, a further examination of the site in 1979 turned up little significant information either, though it is possible that some local treasure hunters who visited the site just after it's announcement may have made off with some finds. Perhaps.




After Jacobsson (a local historian who reported the find - OP) had made his report, Kraft maintains that
two or three gentlemen came from Visby in a car belonging
the late Bengt Hansson of Halldings, Hemse. They sifted the
soil and looked for more objects.


So what of the contents?

In short it's the kit of a travelling Norse Blacksmith: Tools of the trade, Items under repair and construction and raw materials too. There is no firm date attached to the find, just "Viking age", so lets set a purely arbitrary age of about a thousand years to it, give or take another couple of hundred years.

Many of the items seem to have been under a process of repair:




several of the heavy tools (sledge hammers,
hammers and axes) had traces of wood in the haftholes.
These wood fibres are in some cases not visible after
conservation. The small size of the chest makes it less
likely that all the tools placed there had complete handles.
It would also be remarkable if such heavy hafts
were not preserved while much thinner handle fragments
on smaller objects remain (e.g. the key no. 3, the
saw no. 42 and the (?) scribing tool no. 97).
It is difficult to determine the proportion of usable
tools and of damaged tools and scrap-iron. Of the edgetools,
about 30 % have undamaged edges and complete
haft-holes or tangs. The cauldrons and the bells may
have been incomplete and were certainly not new, and
this is also the case with the fire-grid and the griddle,
which are not only defective but show signs of repair.
The damage to the steelyard, however, could be due to
rough handling when it was found.
The


Want to see how much has changed in that thousand years? Well maybe i'm viewing things from my own perspective as a hand-crafter who has spent only a couple of weekends in an iron forge and you'll disagree... but i think very little has changed and i have stuff in my shed that is pretty much the same.

Finding close up photos of individual items has proved impossible for my net skills and if anyone else finds some it would be much appreciated. The Photo above is the best that i could find, and the PDF that i linked contains many accurate (if a little fuzzy) drawings of the finds and was the primary source for this OP - it's recommended reading
However there are many reproductions of various items, so i'm including pictures and links re these as well as some illustrations

Hacksaw and Longsaw, Rasp (direct repros) and a Scribing Tool repro very similar to one found in the chest.



Halldor The Viking

One of several Sledgehammers:


A Draw-knife:


Tin-Snips/Shears


An Adze:


And a Bearded Axe which is pure Viking-Porn. Yummy.


Illustration source

For more pics and descriptions please refer to the PDF linked near the start of the OP, relinked here, the plate numbers match the descriptions in This Catalogue.

How do we know it was the kit of a travelling Smith? Well the farms and homesteads of the age seemed to always have a forge, and this led many to believe that smithing skills were widespread in the Era. However, very little in the way of waste materials like scales and slag are found there suggesting that they were not used very often. Sadly i have lost relevant links, but it seems that basic iron repair may be carried out by the workers at a farm, and for more complicated and skilled work and skilled smith would be comissioned.

This would be an important figure, and he would likely make a living from farming too. He would only visit a farmstead with a decent forge that would need to be prepared and stocked with charcoal prior to his arrival or he would turn his nose up and leave. Then he would stay at the farm, do the required tasks and leave after collecting his silver for his time and work.......




posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 05:48 AM
link   
a reply to: skalla


The conclude, my favourite blood-spattered berserker, the great Skalla-Grim was a smith, and the Saga about his son Egil's rampage through Europe (see my signature for a thread on this) tells us more:




Skallagrim was a good iron-smith, and in winter wrought much in red iron ore. He had a smithy set up some way out from Borg, close by the sea, at a place now called Raufar-ness. The woods he thought were not too far from thence. But since he could find no stone there so hard or smooth as he thought good for hammering iron on (for there are no beach pebbles, the seashore being all fine sand), one evening, when other were gone to sleep, Skallagrim went to the sea, and pushed out an eight-oared boat he had, and rowed out to the Midfirth islands. There he dropped an anchor from the bows of the boat, then stepped overboard, and dived down to the bottom, and brought up a large stone, and lifted it into the boat. Then he himself climbed into the boat and rowed to land, and carried the stone to the smithy and laid it down before the smithy door, and thenceforth he hammered iron on it. That stone lies there yet, and much slag beside it; and the marks of the hammering may be seen on its upper face, and it is a surf-worn boulder, unlike the other stones that are there. Four men nowadays could not lift a larger mass. Skallagrim worked hard at smithying, but his house-carles grumbled thereat, and thought it over early rising. Then Skallagrim composed this stave:

'Who wins wealth by iron
Right early must rise:
Of the sea's breezy brother
Wind-holders need blast.
On furnace-gold glowing
My stout hammer rings,
While heat-feeding bellows
A whistling storm stir.'


Egil's Saga

Thanks for reading!



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 06:02 AM
link   
a reply to: skalla

A minority opinion, I'm sure, but I enjoyed your thread, a welcomed break fro the typical fare on ABS these days.

I was amazed at the snips/shears. I wasn't aware of that concept of cutting materials being known back then, but my grasp on antique tools doesn't extend back more than a few human generations.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 06:03 AM
link   
a reply to: skalla

Man, I'd love to stumble on something like that. Just imagine opening the chest and wondering what's inside? Of course, my imagination tends towards 100s of gold and silver coins, but would settle for this. It's a cool and direct connection to the man whose tools these were and that's no small thing. The wear and tear on the edges; all generated by the processes of working.

With the evolution of tools, they made all their mistakes and leaps of knowledge centuries ago and all we have left is finessing those we use and forgetting those we don't. The Mastermyr tools include hammers and there's not much we can do to improve them. The old eggbeater drills would have blown the mind of our travelling smith and nowadays they're only good for old collections and skips.

I use one of these >>



It's the best claw hammer in the world and (imo) can't be improved!



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 08:36 AM
link   
When I visited København I bought a pair of replica viking scissors, and a chinese girl I met there said that many people in china still use the same style


I also have a 200 year old saami made knife from way up north, and it is beautiful...



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 08:41 AM
link   
Great stuff! Thanks for posting.

I agree little has changed as far as tools go. Their job has been the same for 1000's of years, now we just add power. Craftsmanship and skill are still rare commodities. Wish I had a little bit more of both



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 09:11 AM
link   
a reply to: Aliensun

Thank you! Part of my point in posting this is to start showing how little some tools have changed - readers here often ask how older cultures were able to do various crafting tasks, and if they were able to know a bit more about the tools it may start to make more sense. I've only done a bit of forging, firt time was in an "Iron-Age" style forge with leather and fur bellows and we had to make our own furnace and tuyeres etc (the pipes that feed air to the fire). Bar the lack of muscle, i could have spent the rest of forever in there. I've known a few other blacksmiths, and got to know them pretty well, and their set-ups were not much different inspite of their (20th century( manufactured tools, vices, air flow etc.

a reply to: Kandinsky

I guess that if i discovered a trove of coins i'd worry that the government would just take it off me, at least with something like this i could lend it to various museums. I'd only ask for free lifetime passes and endless tea and cakes.

It's funny about modern tools though, i often misplace my everyday stuff like hammers and cannot be bothered to search, so i just grab a hammerstone (i do have piles of them in the shed, various grades!) and use that for hanging pictures/driving nails etc.

I'm not sure that the eggbeater drill would have amazed a Norse smith though, i've used Augers a few times and they are not so different, and darn effective!



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 09:22 AM
link   
a reply to: Ridhya

Hey Ridhya, very nice collection you have there. Shears like that are still made by smiths today, i've tried to shear a sheep with them before. Like really really badly. Great tools though.

I particularly like that comb, making some bone or antler ones is high on my "make next" list for the new year. I can't tell what yours is made from though - is it birch?

The knife sounds great too, Saami designs are indeed beautiful


a reply to: ABNARTY

Absolutely, many folk who don't get their hands dirty so often sometimes think that powertools allow you to do stuff that you couldnt do otherwise. The truth is usually that it just remove a bit of the sweat and effort. Thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed it



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 09:22 AM
link   
Nothing like some Egil Skallagrimson in the morning. Thanks!



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 09:24 AM
link   
a reply to: Mr Headshot

Ah, the smell of burnt flesh in the wind as your enemy's hall burns and you wait outside with your axe!



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 09:24 AM
link   
got a bit too enthusiastic about hall burnings and really mashed that "post" button. oops
edit on 30-11-2014 by skalla because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 10:04 AM
link   
a reply to: skalla
The comb is actually made of bone. The prongs are a bit thick for my beard. I have a full viking kit. I've also started making leather. (goods, not the leather itself. the cows do that)

Yeah back on topic, im sure you know norsemen were buried with whatever the tools of their profession was. There are a few archaeological sites where we dug up guys buried with all kinds of smithing tools. Personally i'd like to be buried in full viking wear, with my rifle and a cell phone. Throw off the archaeologists of the future!



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 10:23 AM
link   
a reply to: Ridhya

Bone was my first guess, but i usually expect two part construction for bone combs... looking properly now i can see what i guess are the fixing pins. Bone is great stuff to work with, i've made a fair few blades and points from the stuff. I made antler rings for me and the wife when we decided to get hitched too.

My Gran was a Hebridean Gaelic speaker, and i threw a bronze ring of celtic design in there partly in tribute, but yeah, i also hoped it may fox or entertain future archaeologists



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 10:49 AM
link   
a reply to: skalla

Very interesting I had run across this before in regards to the Visby battle site skeletons.

Oh and one point there is an easy way to tests the quality of a blade, you take two blades and put them about a foot apart and bring them together; not at full swing but fairly gently, the superior blade will nick the inferior one while itself is unmarred.

edited to add: oops meant to put this as a comment to the actual sword thread - but it applies in a way!
edit on 30/11/14 by Hanslune because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 11:05 AM
link   

originally posted by: Hanslune
a reply to: skalla

Very interesting I had run across this before in regards to the Visby battle site skeletons.

Oh and one point there is an easy way to tests the quality of a blade, you take two blade put about foot apart and bring them together; not at full swing but fairly gently, the superior blade will nick the inferior one while itself is unmarred.

edited to add: oops meant to put this as a comment to the actual sword thread - but it applies in a way!


It still does, or enough for me anyway. There is a metallurgical analysis at the end of the pdf btw, it's interesting reading


It was seeing the Ulfbehrt thread that made me start this one, after a few weeks of putting it off.



posted on Nov, 30 2014 @ 04:32 PM
link   
I came across some sites containing further modern reproductions:

Collection of possibly all the tools inside:





Source

Concave Drawknife., not descibed as a MM repro, but of near identical pattern:



Source

Horse tack bits and trivets:



Source

Spoon-Augers, one complete with chest brace:





Source

And the anvils:



Source



posted on Dec, 17 2014 @ 11:26 AM
link   
a reply to: skalla

Reparations from the berserker for killing members of your villiage: 100 gold
Sword: 20 gold
Shield: 10 Gold
Ripping that berserker's throat out with your bare teeth: Priceless



posted on Apr, 29 2015 @ 04:11 AM
link   
Thanks for a great thread, we have a lot of similar interests! I´ll get back to you soon!

However, The Mästermyr find was made on Gotland, Sweden, and is now exhibited at Historiska museet in Stockholm.
Just stumbled on it at a vistit last week!

The museum also exhibit the armour from the battle of Visby. Well worth a visit!



posted on Apr, 29 2015 @ 05:13 AM
link   
a reply to: Aurvandil

Ouch! A schoolboy error and thanks for the correction


Head currently hanging in shame :/



posted on Apr, 29 2015 @ 05:15 AM
link   
a reply to: skalla

That's way too cool



new topics

top topics



 
22
<<   2 >>

log in

join